The Deputy has asked several questions. I would like to indicate my appreciation for his support, and that of his party, for my Department’s development assistance programme, which has always been unstinting.
The European Union provides €53 billion, or 55% of all global development aid, so it is showing the way. Four member states have reached and exceeded the 0.7% target. Our largest neighbour, the United Kingdom, whose contribution reached 0.56% in 2011, expects to exceed 0.7% either last year or this year. It has made a tremendous commitment and effort to do that. The European Union is not being slow in dealing with this matter. It is anxious to ensure that contributions from other countries will come into the equation. We are particularly anxious to see emerging economies such as China and India get involved. We want to see global development aid and we will certainly pursue that.
Irish Aid has been reduced by slightly over 30% since 2008. This Government has pretty much stopped that reduction and stabilised the situation. Last year the reduction was from €639 million to €623 million, which, in the present circumstances, was quite an achievement.
Irish Aid is an investment, focusing on sub-Saharan Africa, the area where there is the greatest poverty. The OECD has on many occasions indicated that we are at the cutting edge in the quality of the aid we provide and its effectiveness, so there is no doubt about that. It is in all of our interests to ensure there are developing economies in countries that are emerging, and we have an African strategy whereby we show integrated progress from relief to recovery, development, and economic engagement, which is very much to the benefit of the African countries and, in a broad sense, to the benefit of Irish trade and government as well.